Philadelphia-area sports fans who want to drop their cable or satellite TV package and still watch Phillies, Flyers, and 76ers games have a new option that will let them have it both ways.
The paid streaming service fuboTV announced Thursday that it had signed a deal with NBCUniversal to add all the network's national and local channels to its online offering. The deal includes Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia and the Comcast Network.
This gives local sports fans an option besides Comcast's, Verizon FiOS', and RCN's cable packages for watching games that CSN and TCN televise. In addition to the Phillies, Flyers, and 76ers, CSN and TCN broadcast Union soccer games and a wide range of local college football and basketball.
Flyers and 76ers games are currently available online through NBC Sports' Live Extra streaming platform, but customers must have a cable subscription with CSN to access the streams. Phillies games are not streamed online through that platform.
Sony's PlayStation Vue subscription streaming service is the only other alternative currently on the market that carries CSN. It does not carry TCN.
A monthly subscription to fuboTV will cost $34.99 during an introductory period. That's the same price as the lowest-price PlayStation Vue tier that offers CSN and TCN.
After the introductory period, the length of which has not been officially set, fuboTV's monthly rate will rise to $49.99.
PlayStation Vue's cheapest offering is $29.99 per month, and most expensive $54.99 per month. Rivals SlingTV and DirecTV Now do not offer CSN and TCN.
Along with its agreement with NBC, fuboTV also announced a deal with Fox to carry many of its channels, including Big Ten Network, Fox Sports 1, Fox Sports 2, Fox College Sports, Fox Deportes and Fox Soccer Plus - a channel that most pay-TV subscribers charge $15 a month for on its own.
The inclusion of Fox Sports 2 is notable because Comcast does not offer the channel to many subscribers in the Philadelphia region. FS2's offerings include some Villanova basketball games, international soccer, and mixed martial arts.
Separate deals will also bring NBA TV to the service, as well as nonsports channels including A&E, the History Channel, and Lifetime.
Fox and NBCUniversal's non-sports channels such as Fox News, FX, CNBC, MSNBC, and USA Network will also be included, along with the networks' over-the-air broadcast channels.
The only blackout restriction will be streaming of NFL games on mobile devices, for which Verizon has exclusivity through its own app. NFL streaming will be available on regular computers.
The target launch date for fuboTV's new service is early January.
Although fuboTV's deals with NBC and Fox are new, the company is not. It launched in January 2015 with a focus on international soccer. Prominent channels such as beIN Sports, Univision Deportes, and Argentina's TyC Sports have drawn a subscriber base that surpassed 70,000 users in July.
BeIN is especially popular among soccer fans because it carries U.S. national team road World Cup qualifiers, Spanish league games - including those of star-studded Barcelona and Real Madrid - and Italian and French league games. Comcast carries the channel in the Philadelphia region, but only in standard definition.
FuboTV's current subscription plan costs $9.99 per month, with tiers of add-ons for premium international channels ranging from $2.99 per month to $19.99 per month.
Chief marketing officer Alberto Horihuela would not give details on how current subscribers' bills will change when the new service launches, except to say that they will be "heavily incentivized" to upgrade. The $9.99 tier will remain available for existing subscribers, but will not be available to new subscribers.
Adding all the pieces together, fuboTV will be the only online streaming service available to Philadelphia-area consumers that offers CSN, TCN, Fox Sports 2, Fox Soccer Plus and beIN.